U.N. and donors prepare road map for rebuilding Iraq


  • World
  • Monday, 11 Sep 2006

By Daliah Merzaban

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Iraq, the United Nations and foreign donors met on Sunday to prepare a road map for the reconstruction of Iraq and try to make the country economically self-sufficient within five years. 

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih said that under the initiative, called the International Compact for Iraq, Baghdad would seek aid from governments and multilateral organisations while encouraging private sector investment into its strategic oil industry. 

The wreckage of a vehicle used in a car bomb attack is towed in Baghdad, September 10, 2006. The attack on Sunday killed three and wounded 14 people, mostly policemen, police said. (REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

"The compact lays down the road map for what is needed to restore general stability to Iraq. This is not just about throwing money into the pot," Salih said following the meeting in Abu Dhabi attended by senior officials of the U.N., World Bank and representatives of many Arab and Western governments. 

The meeting was a precursor to high-level talks scheduled for Sept. 18 at the United Nations in New York, where officials will discuss implementation of the compact within the framework of relevant Security Council resolutions. 

Iraq, which sits on the world's third largest oil reserves and is a major producer, had expected billions of dollars in foreign funds after a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003. 

RELENTLESS VIOLENCE 

But instead of rebuilding, foreign companies have largely stayed away due to relentless bombings, shootings and kidnappings. 

The beleaguered rebuilding effort has been plagued by "problems of commitment and problems of delivery", U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting. 

Malloch Brown said less than half of the approximately $50 billion in aid the United Nations estimated Iraq would need in the years that followed the Madrid Conference on Reconstruction in 2003 has actually reached the country. 

"All of us who have watched Iraq since 2003 have been frustrated that despite the tremendous political progress ... still the country has remained in crisis," he said. 

The Iraqi government will be principally responsible for implementing the compact, officials on both sides said. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said oil revenues were expected to reach $60 billion a year in 2011 and half of this would be reinvested in the economy. 

"But there is also a vital role for the international community. Iraq is going to need strategic injections of aid to plug gaps," Malloch Brown added. He did not outline how much international investment would be required. 

Salih said the government's efforts to boost transparency and efficiency and clamp down on corruption would encourage foreign private sector investment, particularly in the oil sector. 

The oil industry, the lifeblood of the economy, has been crippled by insurgent bombings of crude pipelines. 

"We hope the international community will step up in providing for any shortfall that there will be to get us to the point that we become a donor state as opposed to a recipient," Salih said. 

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